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Shelved: May 2018

The beginning of May seems like forever ago. I thought that I was going to be too busy to read as much as I usually do, but, even if I subtract the dropped titles, May still has most months beat by about 25%. I initially had a pic of The Property of Hate V02 above, but since I did not manage to get up to anything other than M/M this month, I figured Cat’s Ashwood’s Alaska would be better. I do, however, want to spend some time on the books that have been collecting dust on my shelves rather than constantly searching for new ones, so I’ll probably get to The Property of Hate in July along with the rest of the Kickstarter titles and already-owneds. Probably.

So what’s what?

Finished Lucy Lennox’s Made Marian series. Book six, Delivering Dante, was a bit… I liked the plot: Kid gets rescued from conversion therapy and grows up to be a leader in the queer youth community and falls in love, too. Great! But it was the falling in love part that was just too forced for me. They were an alright couple but their relationship was a roller coaster of sex and hurt feelings with no real time to simmer, even with two break ups. Then, book seven, A Very Marian Christmas, while not short on Marian’s, was actually about the siblings trying to match two honorary Marians. And it was the best of the series. As for the series, on the whole, the writing did continue to improve and I enjoyed it well enough, but it would have helped itself if two subplots focusing on two minor characters–one of which is the series’ second connection to Lennox’s Forever Wilde series–didn’t just go poof with no explanation. The Forever Wilde series is still going so it may pop up there; guess I’ll have to wait and see.

I’ve always been more than a little turned off by the idea of sexual and romantic relationships between humans and androids. Because of that, I hesitated to read N.R. Walker’s latest offering, Evolved. However, since Walker hasn’t really failed me yet, I decided to give it a go. And I loved it. Lloyd, the POV charater has Obssessive-Compulsive Disorder and also lives with misophonia, which is an extreme dislike of certain sounds; his are primarily centered around sounds humans make with their mouths, like chewing and breathing. And rounding out this collection of character traits is the fact that he doesn’t really like interacting with people. So, what does a guy whose baseline makes close and intimate relationships a disappointment waiting to happen do when he wants companionship or even love? He gets an A-Class, Fully Compatible Unit. This came up early in the story and totally shifted my perspective on human-android relationships. Really. A complete 180°. My particulars are not nearly as pronounced as Lloyd’s, but there are certain limits I have that make relationships difficult for me, so if this was an actual solution, seeing things the way I do now, I don’t think I’d hesitate to obtain an A-Class–cash flow notwithstanding. I’m not all that easy to convince or sway, so I have to applaud Walker for that. I think it helped that Shaun, the android, evolves, as the title suggests. Believably so. Also, the development of their relationship and advancement of the world and technology was woven into the story with very few blatant expositions, so it was very easy to go with the flow of the story. I kind of want more, but I think it ended perfectly, so I’d rather not tempt fate.

I read the first two books in the Coastal College Football series by two new-to-me authors, Andrea Dalling & Felix Brooks. Though you can’t exactly tell by the covers, the first two books feature not only MCs of color, but significant secondary characters of color as well. Book one, Up and Coming, features Emmett Cross, an African American college football player and him coming to terms with his newly discovered bisexuality and what it means for his future as a pro. Book two, Coming Attraction, features Waseem al-Ahmad, a Pakistani American and practicing Muslim and his want for something more than a hookup and his post-university plans. And rather than plugging in all the typical “look I’m not white” elements, Brooks & Dalling were good at revealing aspects of their race and culture within the flow of the story. I think the only thing I really had an issue with in respect to that is that the book was nearly over before they made the distinction that Waseem as a Pakistani American. Prior to that, we just know that he’s Muslim. My issue was that, even though people are determined to make it so, Muslim is not an ethnicity and I shouldn’t have had to wonder for so long what Waseem was. Beyond that and so far, the series is nice, a typical LoveLight Press publication, and I’ll likely see it through to the end.

Speaking of LoveLight Press… I’ve read a number of their offerings and it wasn’t until now–having started Coastal College Football series–that I feel like I get them. As a publisher, I mean. If I recall correctly, the majority of what I’ve read from them has rated three stars. I think the plots are good and I like that they touch on things like race, racism, misogyny, and homophobia and not always in that blatant-insert-moment-of-bigotry-here way. They also try to work fluff in there to bring about some levity to the more serious subjects. Unfortunately, the delivery is usually lacking causing the fluff to err on the side cheesy and the socio-political issue to come off more like an after school special. But I think it’s more of a charm point rather than something that would keep me at bay.

I’ve been passing over Max Hudson for a while, but I finally took a chance with his hockey story, Breakaway. And I liked it. So then I tried something else by him, The Rebound–because I was in sports mood–and, well, I can tell you he’s improved since then.

His writing was extremely aggressive in The Rebound. The word animalistic or animal-like or some form of that was used so many times–just a lot of rough language. I don’t understand why it’s like that. Not every situation was like that but it was enough to leave an impression. The thing I have the biggest issue about it being so aggressive is that one of the main characters was a big black basketball player. There was a lot of references to his appearance and thuggishness. I really don’t like that kind of language or comparison being drawn for black men. I mean it’s already terrible and they were kind of working on showing how you know he’s seen by people, bigots, and such, but it seemed like it wasn’t enough or rather, it would have been fine the way the character had gone through life and encountered a number of not-so-great situations–life can be tough–if only the narration wasn’t so hostile. There’s one scene where someone is inner-monologuing about watching guys standing around fiddling with their ties and rather than saying smoothing their ties down he said that they were sanding their hands down up and down their ties. That is such a strong word for fixing your clothes. Like, you know you don’t get into a brawl when you’re trying to straighten your clothes, right? You’re pretty gentle about that act because you’re trying to make everything look neat. Who the heck sands their hands down their clothes to straighten them out? I felt like I couldn’t escape it. Also, and I have no idea why, but Hudson had a hard-on for the word blast. Blast, blasting, blasted. “He blasted him,” which in one situation meant that someone punched somebody in the face and another situation he meant that he ran through something, like a crowd. I couldn’t understand why he kept using that word. And there was lots of flaring nostrils and fizzing. The latter, nine times out of ten would have been better replaced by tingling or buzzing.

Hudson can do good work and I didn’t want to give up on him completely, so I wanted to give Hudson another try. That got me A Tale of Two Quarterbacks. And that got me some of the weirdest, most reaching similes (he’s the simile king):

His head became heavier and heavier as he ran until his body felt like a grapefruit jabbed onto the end of a pipe cleaner.”

A collective groan was released from the team like urine from an incontinent child in a swimming pool.

…he entered it as furtively as Alice did when she first entered the domain of the Queen of Hearts.

Why? Well, a least the story was okay. And like everything else I picked up on my Hudson spree, it featured an interracial couple. And that, if nothing else, makes me keep wanting to read his work.

As I mentioned at the beginning, May was long and I can hardly remember much if it. More dropped titles than I usually see in a single month. Alaska was good and I’m looking forward to the next book. Other than that, I re-read a few titles and looked forward to new works from Guilt|Pleasure. Nothing really exciting happened, but it was an odd month nonetheless.

June… I’m already knee-deep in M/M, so who knows if it’ll turn out any different than May?

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